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Tampa cop loses job after dragging woman to jail

Tampa cop loses job after dragging woman to jail

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TAMPA — The Tampa Police Department fired one of its officers Tuesday after he was recorded dragging a handcuffed woman along the ground to the Hillsborough County Jail’s booking room.

An investigation found that Officer Gregory Damon violated several department policies during the Nov. 17 incident.

It came after he and other staff were called early this morning to Family Health Centers of Tampa at 4620 N 22nd St. in the Belmont Heights area. People from the medical office reported that a woman was sleeping outside the building and was refusing their requests to leave the property.

The same woman had previously been told to stay away from the property, police said. She was arrested on a charge of trespassing.

When Damon arrived with her at the Orient Road Jail, the woman refused to get out of the back of his patrol SUV, police said.

Bodycam video police released Tuesday captured his interaction with the woman.

“I’m going to get you out of this car,” he told her.

“I want you to drag me,” she said.

The video shows the officer grabbing her arm, pulling her out of the vehicle, then moving her down a long concrete floor to a sign reading “search your arrestee” above the door to the central booking room. The woman spoke defiantly, swearing at the officer the entire time.

As he drags her away, the officer stops and tells the woman to stand up. She stays on the ground.

Damon continued to pull her towards the door. He pressed a call button, summoning two Hillsborough County Jail officers to come outside to help get the woman into the room.

Tampa police did not name the woman in a statement about the incident. But jail booking records show she is 46 years old. Her listed address is a facility in Tampa that provides services to homeless people. She was booked into the jail at 10:19 a.m. that day on a charge of trespassing. Booking notes show she was released several days later to a psychiatric facility. The criminal case against her continues.

Wardens at the jail, which is operated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, reported the incident to the Tampa Police Department. An investigation by the Bureau of Professional Standards began the next day. Damon was relieved of his duties pending the investigation.

The department’s policy for dealing with uncooperative inmates at the jail states that officers should request assistance from jail booking staff. Jail aides can help the officer lift the person into a restraint chair to be taken to jail.

Police said they changed their policy after a similar incident in 2013, adding that it was inappropriate to drag an uncooperative person.

In a news release, police noted that the woman used profanity and profanity toward the officer, but that Damon also made rude and demeaning comments toward her. Violations of its rules include public courtesy rules.

Investigators reviewed the officer’s body camera footage and jailhouse surveillance video and interviewed Damon, finding no clear rationale for the policy violations.

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The investigation ended Tuesday with a decision to fire Damon. He has been working as a patrol officer since 2016.

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